Checkerboard Lace Scarf

Here's a project from the Christmas before last: Purl Bee's Checkerboard Lace Scarf for my grandma.

Horse Ornaments

Created these fun ornaments for my aunt in memory of her horses Coco, Sierra, and Baby. the manes, tails, eyes, and face marking were done with embroidery thread and yarn.

Dickensian Mice

When you finish the knitted sections of Alan Dart's ingenious Dickensian Outdoor Mice, you have a menagerie of small, unrecognizable pieces -- the flat strips for hands and feet, coat cuffs, scarf and bonnet string, ears, bonnet brim, and so on -- all with long yarn tails, ready for seaming. I don't think I know a knitter who enjoys the seaming part of projects, either because they don't sew or because it feels like a pain on top of all of the knitting they've already done. Generally, I'm no exception, -- and I was definitely groaning inwardly throughout much of the seaming for these mice, which took as much time if not more as the knitting  did -- but I think the undeniable charm of these mice is that as you put them together, it really does feel like you're bringing them to life. I've made toys before, like the fairy or poodle, but Dart's mice are so thoughtfully detailed (a quality throughout Dart's patterns) that they felt particularly special.

All of that to say, it was unusual that I couldn't stop giggling when I finished. The mice were so delightfully characterized, and I loved holding them. They can stand on their own if convinced and do this especially well with the support of the other. The lady mouse has a plastic circle cut out from a container at the bottom of her skirt for additional balance. Some other knitters forewent feet for the lady mouse so that she was even more stable, but I thought this looked a bit odd next to her counterpart.

It's the perfect stash buster project, and I was happy to also tap into my embroidery thread stash, albeit for small details. By the time you add facial features and buttons, it's difficult to stop because the details make them precious. The colors were particularly fun, and I could imagine playing with all kinds of combinations. Grandma kept saying that they needed names, but as far as I know, nothing has stuck, so they remain a lady and a gent.

Birte's Irish Fabric: A Short Story

Truth: Write a fictional style story based on your dream knitting project.

I was a perplexed when I first read this prompt about how to begin to go about even identifying a dream knitting project. To me, it seems that a "dream project" of any kind has some kind of perfection or distant attainability, and this isn't really how I think of knitting. If I see a pattern I like, I make it, and if I have an idea, I follow it. Those patterns and ideas change from day to day, satisfying the moment rather than a long-held or deeply felt dream.

For this reason, I realized fairly quickly that the knitting project I wrote about would need to be transient in some way, which inspired the simple story below. The story takes place in Ireland, where I visited several years ago. This story intends to honor the knitting tradition, its impact on communities and individuals, knitting as art, knitting as business, and ultimately the act of knitting transcending a finished piece.

This is a Crafter's "Truth or Dare" post!  what's that?

Birte's Irish Fabric

Pattern: Storybook Cozy

Dare: Make a can cozy inspired by a favorite childhood memory.

My sister and I are blessed with amazing parents (happy anniversary!). Growing up, some of my favorite memories are listening to my parents read to us before bed or during long car rides. They read dozens and dozens of books aloud, even when they were barely awake themselves. We would plead for another chapter to know what happened next.

This cozy is inspired by some of the favorite stories I heard while growing up. I was always particularly drawn to animal characters. The wolf face is inspired by Kapu, the black wolf in Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, and White Fang by Jack London. The mouse is inspired by mouse detective Hermux Tantamaq in Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye and its sequels, or Ragweed by Avi (but not it's sequel Poppy!!). The polar bear is inspired by Iorek Byrnison, the wise armored bear in the His Dark Materials trilogy (the first book, The Golden Compass, being the most well-known) by Philip Pullman. I imagined the boy's face to represent Pip from Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, but it could also be Huckleberry Finn or Sam in My Side of the Mountain.

And finally, the yellow background and speckled borders are inspired by the mythical Dust in the His Dark Materials books.

I wanted to include something from every story -- like the Sammy Keyes books, Amelia Bedelia, Star Girl, Ruby in the Smoke, The Black Stallion, The Boxcar Children, The Wind in the Willows, Island of the Blue Dolphins, the Vesper Holly adventures, Hatchet -- there are so many good ones. Maybe they will be inspiration for a larger project in the future. :)


Worsted weight scrap yarn
US 5 straight needles (worked flat)
Embroidery needle

CO 50 stitches.
Beginning with WS row, work k1, p1 rib to end.
Begin a knit row of chart at bottom right corner.
Continue to work chart back and forth in stockinette stitch.
After last row of chart, work k1, p1 rib to end.

BO all stitches and leave a long tail with yarn.

This is a Crafter's "Truth or Dare" post!  what's that?

Crafter's "Truth or Dare"

The Fuzzy Square is in an ongoing game of crafter's "Truth or Dare" with our friend The Savi Squirrel Nest. Here's how it works:
When a crafter requests a Truth, the other player asks them a question that the crafter must then answer in a blog post. 
When a crafter requests a Dare, the other player gives them a prompt for a project that the crafter will then create.
Easy as that!

To follow where we are in the game, check The Fuzzy Square's sidebar under the Popular Posts section. I'll show what my current Truth or Dare is ("Truth" or "Dare" will be pink based on which I chose!) and link to other recent game posts.

Join me on a prompt that sparks your creativity!

If you're still not sure about this, here are some benefits of crafter's "Truth or Dare":
  • Think outside the box about what you make.
  • Challenge your usual comfort zone.
  • Create something original.
  • Stay connected with other crafters.
  • Peer motivation to keep crafting!
  • Peer motivation to keep blogging!
Savi and I started at the same time and now trade prompts whenever someone finishes one so that we can take things at our own paces. But this could definitely work with alternating turns like traditional Truth or Dare. We also haven't set any strict parameters about deadlines, and the game keeps going without issue.

Give it a try and share how it goes!

Nine Months with My Simple Striped Blanket

Finally. All stitches are bound off for Purl Soho's Hudson Bay's Inspired Crib Blanket, and wow, I really love this blanket. It is so comfortable -- the drape and weight are perfect. Can you believe I used to not like knitting with cotton? A distant memory!

Yup, it's 100% cotton. I had a large stash of the cream color and then used half of a 50g skein in each other color for the stripes. An easy space-out project. I miss having it in the basket next to my chair -- the perfect grab-and-let-go project for those awkward extra few minutes before heading out and the guilty pleasure TV shows that I can only "justify" watching by multitasking.

Now, this blanket is very simple. Without stripes, it would be about as simple as it could possibly be. But it is very special.

Remember when I started this? Yeah, you don't because it was last April. Eons ago. Well, let me tell you about last April. At the time, I was still in school, still living in the state I grew up in, still working and worrying over my honors thesis -- little idea of what I would be doing after graduation (or even what my graduation cap would look like) and where I would be in a year, who I would be.

When I bound off the last stitches of this blanket, I was sitting in the passenger seat of a Penske moving truck next to my dad, listening to Pink Floyd while we crossed the Appalachians. Behind us were hours of packed boxes and padded furniture, in front was Washington, DC. And my stomach would tense and relax like a loose fist, like it did when I first came to Washington four months ago, except this time I wasn't nervous, I was... I don't know what. It wasn't excitement or fear or stress -- just exhilaration. It's funny how easily I can remember how it felt, weeks later.

While this blanket was forming, I traveled 800 miles from the place that will always be home to my first real job, my first apartment. I flew in an airplane for the first time since I first experienced motion sickness. I moved to a city far from home for an internship and made lifelong friends. For two weeks, I drove to Canadian cities on my own. I lost loved ones. I graduated from college. I finished and defended my book-length honors thesis. I experienced heartbreak. I counted 160 stitches, and I began row 2.

I've written before that one of my favorite parts of knitting is giving the finished piece away. Another part of knitting that I love is how it connects to things in life -- the major events, the book you listen to while working, the people you sit with, the movie you watch -- and it creates continuity between them. Like the binding of a book, where each row is like a page, back and forth, front to back, end to end.

There's nothing like garter stitch to take you back and bring you forward. It is the first thing you learn and makes all of the harder stitches possible. How appropriate that such a basic project grew through so much. Simply garter stitch. Like an anchor.

Lamp Revamp: A Second Chance Upcycle Makeover for the Family "Ugly Lamp"

Yes, "Lamp Revamp" is probably way overdone, but really it just works too well to pass.

Something that my family is never short of is hand-me-downs, heirlooms, antiques, etc. etc. We like our passed-through-the-generations furniture and our ancient handpainted china. Christopher Lowell would probably categorize us among the "Heartfelt Hoarders," since every item is tied to a person, a memory, or a pinch of history. Yet we don't like clutter. That's what basements are for.

A trip to the basement can be one of three things: 1) a mundane must, where you're probably getting something out of the freezer, 2) an imagined nightmare, where you just know there is something lurking in the shadows, prompting you to bolt up the stairs at lightning speed when you turn the lights off, or-- the most likely -- 3) a small adventure in which you are the explorer and the basement is some kind of Egyptian tomb where everything is intriguing... and a little dusty. Lately, I've had the third experience several times, enhanced by the prospect of taking some "treasures" to the new apartment. On one expedition, I noticed this lamp posted next to some furniture. I'd completely forgotten it was there (this isn't particularly new) -- it was known in our house as the "ugly lamp." When I asked my grandma if I could take it to the apartment, she laughed (like she couldn't imagine why anyone would want it) and told me I could alter it however I wanted (like she couldn't imagine the "ugly lamp" being redeemed). Challenge accepted.

So this is what I had to work with. (I'm actually sparing you by only picturing the lamp's body -- the lampshade was an entirely different burlap-like beast). This cylinder section about 9.5" tall, 15" around, and the lamp from head to toe is about 30". What you can't see well in the picture is that the center cylinder is actually painted metal. The metal was dented in several places and the paint, in addition to being unflatteringly bland, was chipping. Time for some I-believe-in-you love.

The original plan was short and sweet: slap some glue on, wrap around a piece of scrapbook paper, voila. But the scrapbook paper wasn't wide enough, and I wasn't convinced any of the designs would look good if I used two pieces of trimmed paper together. Well, what do you do if one medium fails?...

Yes, obviously, turn to yarn.

Rather than knit a sort of cylinder sweater for the lamp, I went for the wrapping option. I experimented with a few skeins of leftover yarn and decided on cotton.

Wrapping commenced. I used Elmer's glue at the very beginning, pressing the yarn into it with my finger so that the yarn started as close to the base as possible. When wrapping, I would wrap around two or three times, push the yarn down so there were no spaces between the strands, and pull the yarn end firmly to tighten the wrap. I used up the leftover yarn (maybe 50 yds or so? -- got me up two thirds of the way) and switched to cream cotton yarn, using Elmer's again to end the first color and begin the next, maintaining the wrap tension. Finally, I used Elmer's at the very top and cut the end of the yarn.

It took about an hour total. My back was shamefully sore -- I swear, it's about thirty years older than the rest of my body.. But I'm happy with it. I took the lamp shopping with me and found its new lampshade.

And that's it! Easy as could be -- "ugly lamp" no more!

T-shirt Basket Revisited

I know, you're probably wondering when I'm going to run out of t-shirts, and thus t-shirt yarn, since these crochet t-shirt bag-baskets keep making appearances on the blog. This will likely be the last of its kind for awhile, but they're great fun to make! So simple. They also give me the illusion that I am a crocheter in addition to a knitter (har har).

This particular bag first found "life" in a lumpier form -- I must have increased and decreased during my crochet ascent, because it had less resemblance to a bag or basket and more resemblance to... I'm not sure what. Lucky for it, I'm well-versed in constructing but also deconstructing mistake mutants (here's lookin' at you, Sally Melville jumper...) , and with a much-needed second chance, it took on a more appealing final form.

The bag will soon be moving with me to the new apartment, where it will likely be stuffed with books or yarn or some combination of the two. With Christmas presents off to their new homes, apartment knits are the new focus. The Purl Soho blanket is still in progress -- I had some time to work on it last night, and I think the final end stripes are in sight.

Bundle Up with The Fuzzy Square

Keeping it Simple Stockinette Cowl, pattern available here.

Isn't this the best time of year for fiber crafters? The weather is just right for curling up with a project, and all those scarf, mitten, hat, and slipper patterns sound so appealing.

I just finished a winter project that I'd been working on for months. I started it during the summer and was dragging along, but as soon as cold weather set in, it called me back. Typical!

It's been great to see so many Fuzzy Square patterns being used this season through Ravelry! Even when I'm not writing many new posts, it's wonderful that the patterns continue to be used.

That said, I do hope to write some more posts before the year is out! Stay tuned. :)